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Journal Prestige (SJR): 2.455
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Number of Followers: 177  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0010-0277
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • Memory enhancements from active control of learning emerge across
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Azzurra Ruggeri, Douglas B. Markant, Todd M. Gureckis, Maria Bretzke, Fei Xu This paper investigates whether active control of study leads to enhanced learning in 5- to 11-year-old children. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants played a simple memory game with the instruction to try to remember and later recognize a set of 64 objects. In Experiment 3, the goal was to learn the French names for the same objects. For half of the materials presented, participants could decide the order and pacing of study (Active condition). For the other half, they passively observed the study decisions of a previous participant (Yoked condition). Recognition memory was more accurate for objects studied in the active as compared to the yoked condition. However, the active learning advantage was relatively small among 5-year-olds and increased with age, becoming comparable to adults’ by age 8. Our results show that the ability to actively control study develops during early childhood and results in memory benefits that last over a week-long delay. We discuss possible interpretations for the observed developmental change, as well as the implications of these results for educational implementations.
  • Superior learning in synesthetes: Consistent grapheme-color associations
           facilitate statistical learning
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Tess Allegra Forest, Alessandra Lichtenfeld, Bryan Alvarez, Amy S. Finn In synesthesia activation in one sensory domain, such as smell or sound, triggers an involuntary and unusual secondary sensory or cognitive experience. In the present study, we ask whether the added sensory experience of synesthesia can aid statistical learning—the ability to track environmental regularities in order to segment continuous information. To investigate this, we measured statistical learning outcomes, using an aurally presented artificial language, in two groups of synesthetes alongside controls and simulated the multimodal experience of synesthesia in non-synesthetes. One group of synesthetes exclusively had grapheme-color (GC) synesthesia, in which the experience of color is automatically triggered by exposure to written or spoken graphemes. The other group had both grapheme-color and sound-color (SC+) synesthesia, in which the experience of color is also triggered by the waveform properties of a voice, such as pitch, timbre, and/or musical chords. Unlike GC-only synesthetes, the experience of color in the SC+ group is not perfectly consistent with the statistics that signal word boundaries. We showed that GC-only synesthetes outperformed both non-synesthetes and SC+ synesthetes, likely because the visual concurrents for GC-only synesthetes are highly consistent with the artificial language. We further observed that our simulations of GC synesthesia, but not SC+ synesthesia produced superior statistical learning, showing that synesthesia likely boosts learning outcomes by providing a consistent secondary cue. Findings are discussed with regard to how multimodal experience can improve learning, with the present data indicating that this boost is more likely to occur through explicit, as opposed to implicit, learning systems.
  • Decisional space modulates visual categorization – Evidence from
           saccadic reaction times
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Meike Ramon, Nayla Sokhn, Roberto Caldara Manual and saccadic reaction times (SRTs) have been used to determine the minimum time required for different types of visual categorizations. Such studies have demonstrated extremely rapid detection of faces within natural scenes, whereas increasingly complex decisions (i.e. levels of processing) require longer processing times. We reasoned that visual categorization speed is not only dependent on the processing level, but is further affected by decisional space constraints. In the context of two different tasks, observers performed choice saccades towards female (gender categorization) or personally familiar (familiarity categorization) faces. Additionally, familiarity categorizations were completed with stimulus sets that differed in the number of individuals presented (3 vs. 7 identities) to investigate the effect of decisional space constraints. We observe an inverse relationship between visual categorization proficiency and decisional space. Observers were most accurate for categorization of gender, which could be achieved in as little as 140 ms. Categorization of highly predictable targets was more error-prone and required an additional ∼100 ms processing time. Our findings add to an increasing body of evidence demonstraing that pre-activation of identity-information can modulate early visual processing in a top-down manner. They also emphasize the importance of considering procedural aspects, as well as terminology when aiming to characterize cognitive processes.
  • Metacognition across sensory modalities: Vision, warmth, and nociceptive
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Brianna Beck, Valentina Peña-Vivas, Stephen Fleming, Patrick Haggard The distinctive experience of pain, beyond mere processing of nociceptive inputs, is much debated in psychology and neuroscience. One aspect of perceptual experience is captured by metacognition—the ability to monitor and evaluate one’s own mental processes. We investigated confidence in judgements about nociceptive pain (i.e. pain that arises from the activation of nociceptors by a noxious stimulus) to determine whether metacognitive processes contribute to the distinctiveness of the pain experience. Our participants made intensity judgements about noxious heat, innocuous warmth, and visual contrast (first-order, perceptual decisions) and rated their confidence in those judgements (second-order, metacognitive decisions). First-order task performance between modalities was balanced using adaptive staircase procedures. For each modality, we quantified metacognitive efficiency (meta-d’/d’)—the degree to which participants’ confidence reports were informed by the same evidence that contributed to their perceptual judgements—and metacognitive bias (mean confidence)—the participant’s tendency to report higher or lower confidence overall. We found no overall differences in metacognitive efficiency or mean confidence between modalities. Mean confidence ratings were highly correlated between all three tasks, reflecting stable inter-individual variability in metacognitive bias. However, metacognitive efficiency for pain varied independently of metacognitive efficiency for warmth and visual perception. That is, those participants who had higher metacognitive efficiency in the visual task also tended to have higher metacognitive efficiency in the warmth task, but not necessarily in the pain task. We thus suggest that some distinctive and idiosyncratic aspects of the pain experience may stem from additional variability at a metacognitive level. We further speculate that this additional variability may arise from the affective or arousal aspects of pain.
  • The precision of attentional selection is far worse than the precision of
           the underlying memory representation
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Dirk Kerzel Voluntary attentional selection requires the match of sensory input to a stored representation of the target features. We compared the precision of attentional selection to the precision of the underlying memory representation of the target. To measure the precision of attentional selection, we used a cue-target paradigm where participants searched for a colored target. Typically, RTs are shorter at the cued compared to uncued locations when the cue has the same color as the target. In contrast, cueing effects are absent or even inverted when cue and target colors are dissimilar. By systematically varying the difference between cue and target color, we calculated a function relating cue color to cueing effects. The width of this function reflects the precision of attentional selection and was compared to the precision of judgments of the target color on a color wheel. The precision of the memory representation was far better than the precision of attentional selection. When the task was made more difficult by increasing the similarity between the target and the nontarget stimuli in the target display, the precision of attentional selection increased, but was still worse than the precision of memory. When the search task was made more difficult, we also observed that for dissimilar cue colors, RTs were slower at cued than at uncued locations (i.e., same location costs), suggesting that improvements in attentional selectivity were achieved by suppressing non-target colors.
  • Intermediate coding versus direct mapping accounts for the SNARC effect:
           Santens and Gevers (2008) revisited
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): James E. Vellan, Craig Leth-Steensen Intermediate coding accounts have been used to provide an explanation for the spatial-numerical association of response codes (SNARC) effect and can be contrasted with the classic direct spatial mapping account of such an association (i.e., from the mental number line directly to the responses). Importantly, a study by Santens and Gevers (2008)’s has been widely referenced in support of intermediate coding, with 90 citations at the time of writing. Hence, the current study attempted to replicate Santens and Gevers (2008)’s findings using identical methodology and a larger sample size. As in that study, participants engaged in a single-digit, magnitude judgment task. Smaller and larger responses were made using keys that were either close to or far from a middle start key with half of the participants responding to the left of the middle key and half responding to the right. Results indicate that close responses were associated with smaller numbers and far responses associated with larger numbers. However, unlike in Santens and Gevers (2008), this association could only be observed for the group of participants who responded to the right of the middle key. As will be discussed, although the presence of such an association effect for right-side responders is consistent with both the intermediate coding and direct mapping accounts, the lack of such an association effect for left-side responders is not completely consistent with either account.
  • Identity fusion, outgroup relations, and sacrifice: A cross-cultural test
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Martin Lang Identity fusion theory has become a popular psychological explanation of costly self-sacrifice. It posits that while maintaining one’s own individual identity, a deep affinity with one’s group can contribute to sacrifice for that group. We test this and related hypotheses using a behavioral economic experiment designed to detect biased, self-interested favoritism among eight different populations ranging from foragers and horticulturalists to the fully market-integrated. We find that while individuals favor themselves on average, those with higher ingroup fusion sacrifice more money to other members of their ingroup who are unable to reciprocate. We also find that positive outgroup relations has a similar effect. Additionally, we assess a recently-posited interaction between ingroup and outgroup relations and show no consistent effect at the individual or sub-sample levels.
  • Adaptive memory: Source memory is positively associated with adaptive
           social decision making
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 186Author(s): Marie Luisa Schaper, Laura Mieth, Raoul Bell The key insight behind the adaptive memory framework is that the primary function of remembering is not to help us to relive the past but to inform adaptive behavior in the future. However, the beneficial effects of memory on the individual’s fitness are often difficult to study empirically. In the case of social cooperation, it is comparatively easy to derive testable predictions about the relationship between specific types of memory (e.g., source memory) and specific types of adaptive decision making (e.g., direct reciprocity). In the present study, we examined both the participants’ behaviors in a Prisoner’s Dilemma game and their memory performance in a source-monitoring test. Participants showed evidence of adaptive decision making. Their willingness to cooperate was strongly determined by their partners’ behaviors in previous rounds. Individual parameter estimates of old-new recognition, source memory, and guessing were obtained via hierarchical multinomial processing tree modeling. Source memory was positively associated with adaptive decisions in the Prisoner’s Dilemma game. The better participants’ source memory, the more often they cooperated with cooperators and the less often they cooperated with cheaters. Guessing in the memory test, by contrast, was unrelated to cooperation. The results underline the importance of source memory in adaptive decision making.
  • How the inference of hierarchical rules unfolds over time
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Maria K. Eckstein, Ariel Starr, Silvia A. Bunge Inductive reasoning, which entails reaching conclusions that are based on but go beyond available evidence, has long been of interest in cognitive science. Nevertheless, knowledge is still lacking as to the specific cognitive processes that underlie inductive reasoning. Here, we shed light on these processes in two ways. First, we characterized the timecourse of inductive reasoning in a rule induction task, using pupil dilation as a moment-by-moment measure of cognitive load. Participants’ patterns of behavior and pupillary responses indicated that they engaged in rule inference on-line, and were surprised when additional evidence violated their inferred rules. Second, we sought to gain insight into how participants represented rules on this task – specifically, whether they would structure the rules hierarchically when possible. We predicted the cognitive load imposed by hierarchical representations, as well as by non-hierarchical, flat ones. We used task-evoked pupil dilation as a metric of cognitive load to infer, based on these predictions, which participants represented rules with flat or hierarchical structures. Participants categorized as representing the rules hierarchically or flat differed in task performance and self-reports of strategy. Hierarchical rule representation was associated with more efficient performance and more pronounced pupillary responses to rule violations on trials that afford a higher-order regularity, but with less efficient performance on trials that do not. Thus, differences in rule representation can be inferred from a physiological measure of cognitive load, and are associated with differences in performance. These results illustrate how pupillometry can provide a window into reasoning as it unfolds over time.
  • Literacy improves short-term serial recall of spoken verbal but not
           visuospatial items – Evidence from illiterate and literate adults
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Eleonore H.M. Smalle, Arnaud Szmalec, Louisa Bogaerts, Mike P.A. Page, Vaishna Narang, Deepshikha Misra, Susana Araújo, Nishant Lohagun, Ouroz Khan, Anuradha Singh, Ramesh K. Mishra, Falk Huettig It is widely accepted that specific memory processes, such as serial-order memory, are involved in written language development and predictive of reading and spelling abilities. The reverse question, namely whether orthographic abilities also affect serial-order memory, has hardly been investigated. In the current study, we compared 20 illiterate people with a group of 20 literate matched controls on a verbal and a visuospatial version of the Hebb paradigm, measuring both short- and long-term serial-order memory abilities. We observed better short-term serial-recall performance for the literate compared with the illiterate people. This effect was stronger in the verbal than in the visuospatial modality, suggesting that the improved capacity of the literate group is a consequence of learning orthographic skills. The long-term consolidation of ordered information was comparable across groups, for both stimulus modalities. The implications of these findings for current views regarding the bi-directional interactions between memory and written language development are discussed.
  • Does direction matter' Linguistic asymmetries reflected in visual
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Thomas Kluth, Michele Burigo, Holger Schultheis, Pia Knoeferle Language and vision interact in non-trivial ways. Linguistically, spatial utterances are often asymmetrical as they relate more stable objects (reference objects) to less stable objects (located objects). Researchers have claimed that such linguistic asymmetry should also be reflected in the allocation of visual attention when people process a depicted spatial relation described by spatial language. More specifically, it was assumed that people move their attention from the reference object to the located object. However, recent theoretical and empirical findings challenge the directionality of this attentional shift. In this article, we present the results of an empirical study based on predictions generated by computational cognitive models implementing different directionalities of attention. Moreover, we thoroughly analyze the computational models. While our results do not favor any of the implemented directionalities of attention, we found that two unknown sources of geometric information affect spatial language understanding. We provide modifications to the computational models that substantially improve their performance on empirical data.
  • A hierarchical model of social perception: Psychophysical evidence
           suggests late rather than early integration of visual information from
           facial expression and body posture
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Christoph Teufel, Meryl F. Westlake, Paul C. Fletcher, Elisabeth von dem Hagen Facial expressions are one of the most important sources of information about another’s emotional states. More recently, other cues such as body posture have been shown to influence how facial expressions are perceived. It has been argued that this biasing effect is underpinned by an early integration of visual information from facial expression and body posture. Here, we replicate this biasing effect, but, using a psychophysical procedure, show that adaptation to facial expressions is unaffected by body context. The integration of face and body information therefore occurs downstream of the sites of adaptation, known to be localised in high-level visual areas of the temporal lobe. Contrary to previous research, our findings thus provide direct evidence for late integration of information from facial expression and body posture. They are consistent with a hierarchical model of social perception, in which social signals from different sources are initially processed independently and in parallel by specialised visual mechanisms. Integration of these different inputs in later stages of the visual system then supports the emergence of the integrated whole-person percept that is consciously experienced.
  • Influence and seepage: An evidence-resistant minority can affect public
           opinion and scientific belief formation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 January 2019Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Stephan Lewandowsky, Toby D. Pilditch, Jens K. Madsen, Naomi Oreskes, James S. Risbey Some well-established scientific findings may be rejected by vocal minorities because the evidence is in conflict with political views or economic interests. For example, the tobacco industry denied the medical consensus on the harms of smoking for decades, and the clear evidence about human-caused climate change is currently being rejected by many politicians and think tanks that oppose regulatory action. We present an agent-based model of the processes by which denial of climate change can occur, how opinions that run counter to the evidence can affect the scientific community, and how denial can alter the public discourse. The model involves an ensemble of Bayesian agents, representing the scientific community, that are presented with the emerging historical evidence of climate change and that also communicate the evidence to each other. Over time, the scientific community comes to agreement that the climate is changing. When a minority of agents is introduced that is resistant to the evidence, but that enter into the scientific discussion, the simulated scientific community still acquires firm knowledge but consensus formation is delayed. When both types of agents are communicating with the general public, the public remains ambivalent about the reality of climate change. The model captures essential aspects of the actual evolution of scientific and public opinion during the last 4 decades.
  • Does language similarity affect representational integration'
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Jian Huang, Martin J. Pickering, Xuemei Chen, Zhenguang Cai, Suiping Wang, Holly P. Branigan Previous studies have suggested that multilingual speakers do not represent their languages entirely separately but instead share some representations across languages. To determine whether sharing is affected by language similarity, we investigated whether participants’ tendency to repeat syntax across languages was affected by language similarity. In three cross-linguistic structural priming experiments, trilingual Mandarin-Cantonese-English participants heard a sentence in Cantonese or English (which they matched to a picture) and then described a dative event in Mandarin. When prime and target sentences involved different actions (Experiment 1), structural priming was unaffected by language similarity. But when prime and target involved the same action (Experiments 2 and 3), priming was stronger between related languages (i.e., Cantonese to Mandarin) than unrelated languages (i.e., English to Mandarin). Similar languages are not more integrated than dissimilar languages overall, but the representations that connect lexical and syntactic information are more closely integrated.
  • The one-is-more illusion: Sets of discrete objects appear less extended
           than equivalent continuous entities in both space and time
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Sami R. Yousif, Brian J. Scholl We distinguish between discrete objects and continuous entities in categorization and language, but might we actually see such stimuli differently' Here we report the one-is-more illusion, wherein ‘objecthood’ changes what we perceive in an unexpected way. Across many variations and tasks, observers perceived a single continuous object (e.g. a rectangle) as longer than an equated set of multiple discrete objects (e.g. two shorter rectangles separated by a gap). This illusion is phenomenologically compelling, exceptionally reliable, and it extends beyond space, to time: a single continuous tone is perceived to last longer than an equated set of multiple discrete tones. Previous work has emphasized the importance of objecthood for processes such as attention and visual working memory, but these results typically require careful analyses of subtle effects. In contrast, we provide striking demonstrations of how perceived objecthood changes the perception of other properties in a way that you can readily see (and hear!) with your own eyes (and ears!).
  • Conscious and unconscious memory differentially impact attention: Eye
           movements, visual search, and recognition processes
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Michelle M. Ramey, Andrew P. Yonelinas, John M. Henderson A hotly debated question is whether memory influences attention through conscious or unconscious processes. To address this controversy, we measured eye movements while participants searched repeated real-world scenes for embedded targets, and we assessed memory for each scene using confidence-based methods to isolate different states of subjective memory awareness. We found that memory-informed eye movements during visual search were predicted both by conscious recollection, which led to a highly precise first eye movement toward the remembered location, and by unconscious memory, which increased search efficiency by gradually directing the eyes toward the target throughout the search trial. In contrast, these eye movement measures were not influenced by familiarity-based memory (i.e., changes in subjective reports of memory strength). The results indicate that conscious recollection and unconscious memory can each play distinct and complementary roles in guiding attention to facilitate efficient extraction of visual information.
  • Acquisition and processing of an artificial mini-language combining
           semantic and syntactic elements
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Fosca Al Roumi, Dror Dotan, Tianmin Yang, Liping Wang, Stanislas Dehaene Most artificial grammar tasks require the learning of sequences devoid of meaning. Here, we introduce a learning task that allows studying the acquisition and processing of a mini-language of arithmetic with both syntactic and semantic components. In this language, symbols have values that predict the probability of being rewarded for a right or left response. Novel to our paradigm is the presence of a syntactic operator which changes the sign of the subsequent value. By continuously tracking finger movement as participants decided whether to press left or right, we revealed the successive cognitive stages associated with the sequential processing of the semantic and syntactic elements of this mini-language. All participants were able to understand the semantic component, but only half of them learned the rule associated with the syntactic operator. Our results provide an encouraging first step in elucidating the way in which humans acquire non-verbal syntactic structures and show how the finger tracking methodology can shed light on real-time artificial language processing.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Sound symbolism in sighted and blind. The role of vision and orthography
           in sound-shape correspondences
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Roberto Bottini, Marco Barilari, Olivier Collignon Non-arbitrary sound-shape correspondences (SSC), such as the “bouba-kiki” effect, have been consistently observed across languages and together with other sound-symbolic phenomena challenge the classic linguistic dictum of the arbitrariness of the sign. Yet, it is unclear what makes a sound “round” or “spiky” to the human mind. Here we tested the hypothesis that visual experience is necessary for the emergence of SSC, supported by empirical evidence showing reduced SSC in visually impaired people. Results of two experiments comparing early blind and sighted individuals showed that SSC emerged strongly in both groups. Experiment 2, however, showed a partially different pattern of SSC in sighted and blind, that was mostly explained by a different effect of orthographic letter shape: The shape of written letters (spontaneously activated by spoken words) influenced SSC in the sighted, but not in the blind, who are exposed to an orthography (Braille) in which letters do not have spiky or round outlines. In sum, early blindness does not prevent the emergence of SSC, and differences between sighted and visually impaired people may be due the indirect influence (or lack thereof) of orthographic letter shape.
  • Is scaling up harder than scaling down' How children and adults
           visually scale distance from memory
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Jodie M. Plumert, Alycia M. Hund, Kara M. Recker In three experiments (N = 288), we examined how the direction of the scale translation impacts how 4- to 5-year-old children and adults visually scale distance from memory. Participants first watched an experimenter place an object on a learning mat and then attempted to place a replica object on a test mat that was either identical (no scaling task) or different in scale (scaling task). In Experiment 1, both children and adults had difficulty scaling up from 16 to 128 in. (1:8 scaling ratio) but not scaling down from 128 to 16 in. (8:1 scaling ratio), suggesting that scaling up was harder than scaling down. In Experiment 2, we reduced the scaling ratio from 1:8 to 1:2 and found that children and adults had no difficulty scaling up from 16 to 32 in. or scaling down from 32 to 16 in.. In Experiment 3, we kept the scale ratio the same (1:2) but increased the size of the test mat and found that participants had difficulty with both scaling up from 32 to 64 in. and scaling down from 128 to 64 in.. We conclude that scaling up is not harder than scaling down. Rather, visually scaling distance is more difficult when participants cannot view both edges of the test mat simultaneously while making the scale translation. Across all experiments, 4- to 5-year-olds were less accurate than adults in their placements overall, but they exhibited the same patterns of performance on the scaling and no scaling tasks, suggesting that visual scaling processes are age-independent. The General Discussion focuses on how visual scaling emerges from a complex interplay of cognitive processes and visual constraints.
  • Word frequency effects in sound change as a consequence of perceptual
           asymmetries: An exemplar-based model
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Simon Todd, Janet B. Pierrehumbert, Jennifer Hay Empirically-observed word frequency effects in regular sound change present a puzzle: how can high-frequency words change faster than low-frequency words in some cases, slower in other cases, and at the same rate in yet other cases' We argue that this puzzle can be answered by giving substantial weight to the role of the listener. We present an exemplar-based computational model of regular sound change in which the listener plays a large role, and we demonstrate that it generates sound changes with properties and word frequency effects seen in corpora. In particular, we consider the experimentally-supported assumption that high-frequency words may be more robustly recognized than low-frequency words in the face of acoustic ambiguity. We show that this assumption allows high-frequency words to change at the same rate as low-frequency words when a phoneme category moves without encroaching on the acoustic space of another, faster than low-frequency words when it moves toward another, and slower than low-frequency words when it moves away from another. We discuss how these predicted word frequency effects apply to different types of sound changes that have been observed in the literature. Importantly, these frequency effects follow from assumptions regarding processes in perception, not production. Frequency-based asymmetries in perception predict different frequency effects for different kinds of sound change.
  • Explanation recruits comparison in a category-learning task
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Cognition, Volume 185Author(s): Brian J. Edwards, Joseph J. Williams, Dedre Gentner, Tania Lombrozo Generating explanations can be highly effective in promoting category learning; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We propose that engaging in explanation can recruit comparison processes, and that this in turn contributes to the effectiveness of explanation in supporting category learning. Three experiments evaluated the interplay between explanation and various comparison strategies in learning artificial categories. In Experiment 1, as expected, prompting participants to explain items’ category membership led to (a) higher ratings of self-reported comparison processing and (b) increased likelihood of discovering a rule underlying category membership. Indeed, prompts to explain led to more self-reported comparison than did direct prompts to compare pairs of items. Experiment 2 showed that prompts to compare all members of a particular category (“group comparison”) were more effective in supporting rule learning than were pairwise comparison prompts. Experiment 3 found that group comparison (as assessed by self-report) partially mediated the relationship between explanation and category learning. These results suggest that one way in which explanation benefits category learning is by inviting comparisons in the service of identifying broad patterns.
  • Identity-motivated reasoning: Biased judgments regarding political leaders
           and their actions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Sharon Arieli, Adi Amit, Sari Mentser We investigate how constituents interpret information about political leaders in the course of forming judgments about them. More specifically, we are interested in the intentionality attributed to the actions and decisions taken by political leaders – whether they are perceived as designed to benefit the politician’s own interests, or the interests of the public. In two field studies, we show that the political orientation of constituents plays a central role in driving constituents’ judgments about political leaders and their actions (in terms of beneficiary attributions), reflecting an identity-motivated reasoning process. Political leaders of the ingroup are perceived more favorably than political leaders of the outgroup, in terms of trust and a desire to see that leader represent the country in the international arena. More interestingly, constituents are likely to attribute the actions of ingroup leaders as intended to benefit the country (national interests), and the actions of outgroup leaders as intended to benefit the political leaders themselves (egoistic interests).
  • Cognitive mechanisms in violent extremism
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Arie W. Kruglanski, Jessica R. Fernandez, Adam R. Factor, Ewa Szumowska This paper considers the cognitive underpinnings of violent extremism. We conceptualize extremism as stemming from a motivational imbalance in which a given need “crowds out” other needs and liberates behavior from their constraints. In the case of violent extremism, the dominant need in question is the quest for personal significance and the liberated behavior is aggression employed as means to the attainment of significance. The cognitive mechanisms that enable this process are ones of learning and inference, knowledge activation, selective attention, and inhibition. These are discussed via examples from relevant research.
  • Skilled readers’ sensitivity to meaningful regularities in English
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 December 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Anastasia Ulicheva, Hannah Harvey, Mark Aronoff, Kathleen Rastle Substantial research has been undertaken to understand the relationship between spelling and sound, but we know little about the relationship between spelling and meaning in alphabetic writing systems. We present a computational analysis of English writing in which we develop new constructs to describe this relationship. Diagnosticity captures the amount of meaningful information in a given spelling, whereas specificity estimates the degree of dispersion of this meaning across different spellings for a particular sound sequence. Using these two constructs, we demonstrate that particular suffix spellings tend to be reserved for particular meaningful functions. We then show across three paradigms (nonword classification, spelling, and eye tracking during sentence reading) that this form of regularity between spelling and meaning influences the behaviour of skilled readers, and that the degree of this behavioural sensitivity mirrors the strength of spelling-to-meaning regularities in the writing system. We close by arguing that English spelling may have become fractionated such that the high degree of spelling-sound inconsistency maximises the transmission of meaningful information.
  • Political cognition helps explain social class divides: Two dimensions of
           candidate impressions, group stereotypes, and meritocracy beliefs
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 November 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Susan T. Fiske Political cognitions—particularly impressions and stereotypes along two fundamental dimensions of social evaluations—play some role in explaining social class divides and accompanying resentments. First, the Big Two dimensions (warmth/communion and competence/agency) describe candidate perception, person perception, and group stereotypes. In particular, the stereotype content model and related perspectives show social-class stereotypes depicting elites as competent but cold and lower-income groups as incompetent but warm. This trade-off justifies the system as meritocractic, because elites’ stereotypic competence supports their status based on deservingness. Nevertheless, varied evidence (from social psychology, political science, and sociology) indicates common beliefs that support cross-class resentments: In particular, many citizens express political resentment both downward (toward cheats) and upward (toward elites). In this context, backlash against the system results. Anticipated by systematic theories, these political cognitions (impressions, stereotypes, beliefs) help explain the populist and nativist resentments in current political discourse; all support polarized, dysfunctional politics.
  • Forecasting tournaments, epistemic humility and attitude depolarization
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Barbara Mellers, Philip Tetlock, Hal R. Arkes People often express political opinions in starkly dichotomous terms, such as “Trump will either trigger a ruinous trade war or save U.S. factory workers from disaster.” This mode of communication promotes polarization into ideological in-groups and out-groups. We explore the power of an emerging methodology, forecasting tournaments, to encourage clashing factions to do something odd: to translate their beliefs into nuanced probability judgments and track accuracy over time and questions. In theory, tournaments advance the goals of “deliberative democracy” by incentivizing people to be flexible belief updaters whose views converge in response to facts, thus depolarizing unnecessarily polarized debates. We examine the hypothesis that, in the process of thinking critically about their beliefs, tournament participants become more moderate in their own political attitudes and those they attribute to the other side. We view tournaments as belonging to a broader class of psychological inductions that increase epistemic humility and that include asking people to explore alternative perspectives, probing the depth of their cause-effect understanding and holding them accountable to audiences with difficult-to-guess views.
  • Actively open-minded thinking in politics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Jonathan Baron The concept of actively open-minded thinking (AOT) provides standards for evaluation of thinking, which apply both to our own thinking and to the thinking of others. AOT is important for good citizenship for three reasons: it provides a prescription for individual thinking about political decisions; it serves as a social norm (when others agree); and, perhaps most importantly, it provides a standard for knowing which sources to trust, including politicians and pundits. I provide a current account of AOT as a general prescriptive theory that defines a standard or norm for all thinking, with emphasis on its role in the judgment of the thinking of others, and in maintaining appropriate confidence. I also contrast AOT with other standards. AOT does not assume that more thinking is always better, and it implies that low confidence in the results of thinking is often warranted and beneficial. I discuss the measurement of AOT and its relation to politics. Finally, I report two preliminary studies of AOT in judgments of others thoughts, and the role of confidence.
  • Re-thinking Cognition’s Open Data Policy: Responding to Hardwicke and
           colleagues’ evaluation of its impact
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Manos Tsakiris, Randi Martin, Johan Wagemans
  • Epistemic spillovers: Learning others’ political views reduces the
           ability to assess and use their expertise in nonpolitical domains
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 October 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Joseph Marks, Eloise Copland, Eleanor Loh, Cass R. Sunstein, Tali Sharot On political questions, many people prefer to consult and learn from those whose political views are similar to their own, thus creating a risk of echo chambers or information cocoons. We test whether the tendency to prefer knowledge from the politically like-minded generalizes to domains that have nothing to do with politics, even when evidence indicates that politically like-minded people are less skilled in those domains than people with dissimilar political views. Participants had multiple opportunities to learn about others’ (1) political opinions and (2) ability to categorize geometric shapes. They then decided to whom to turn for advice when solving an incentivized shape categorization task. We find that participants falsely concluded that politically like-minded others were better at categorizing shapes and thus chose to hear from them. Participants were also more influenced by politically like-minded others, even when they had good reason not to be. These results replicate in two independent samples. The findings demonstrate that knowing about others’ political views interferes with the ability to learn about their competency in unrelated tasks, leading to suboptimal information-seeking decisions and errors in judgement. Our findings have implications for political polarization and social learning in the midst of political divisions.
  • Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained
           by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 June 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand Why do people believe blatantly inaccurate news headlines (“fake news”)' Do we use our reasoning abilities to convince ourselves that statements that align with our ideology are true, or does reasoning allow us to effectively differentiate fake from real regardless of political ideology' Here we test these competing accounts in two studies (total N = 3446 Mechanical Turk workers) by using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) as a measure of the propensity to engage in analytical reasoning. We find that CRT performance is negatively correlated with the perceived accuracy of fake news, and positively correlated with the ability to discern fake news from real news – even for headlines that align with individuals’ political ideology. Moreover, overall discernment was actually better for ideologically aligned headlines than for misaligned headlines. Finally, a headline-level analysis finds that CRT is negatively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively implausible (primarily fake) headlines, and positively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively plausible (primarily real) headlines. In contrast, the correlation between CRT and perceived accuracy is unrelated to how closely the headline aligns with the participant’s ideology. Thus, we conclude that analytic thinking is used to assess the plausibility of headlines, regardless of whether the stories are consistent or inconsistent with one’s political ideology. Our findings therefore suggest that susceptibility to fake news is driven more by lazy thinking than it is by partisan bias per se – a finding that opens potential avenues for fighting fake news.
  • I know why you voted for Trump: (Over)inferring motives based on choice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 May 2018Source: CognitionAuthor(s): Kate Barasz, Tami Kim, Ioannis Evangelidis People often speculate about why others make the choices they do. This paper investigates how such inferences are formed as a function of what is chosen. Specifically, when observers encounter someone else’s choice (e.g., of political candidate), they use the chosen option’s attribute values (e.g., a candidate’s specific stance on a policy issue) to infer the importance of that attribute (e.g., the policy issue) to the decision-maker. Consequently, when a chosen option has an attribute whose value is extreme (e.g., an extreme policy stance), observers infer—sometimes incorrectly—that this attribute disproportionately motivated the decision-maker’s choice. Seven studies demonstrate how observers use an attribute’s value to infer its weight—the value-weight heuristic—and identify the role of perceived diagnosticity: more extreme attribute values give observers the subjective sense that they know more about a decision-maker’s preferences, and in turn, increase the attribute’s perceived importance. The paper explores how this heuristic can produce erroneous inferences and influence broader beliefs about decision-makers.
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
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